Excerpted from IT'S THE MIDDLE CLASS, STUPID! by James Carville and Stan Greenberg by arrangement with Blue Rider Press, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Copyright © James Carville and Stan Greenberg, 2012.
1. WE ARE WRITING THIS BOOK BECAUSE WE FAILED AND THAT'S NOT GOOD ENOUGH
There's no other way to put it. We failed. It is as simple as that. Both of us have spent our lives focused on what's happening with working people and seeing them get a fair shake for a hard day's work—seeing them get the chance to move up the ladder and be honored. We put the middle class at the center of the world, because you can't have an America without a middle class.
Well, we failed, and we have got to do better, and that's why we are writing this book.
You need to understand the Democratic Party and why people have been drawn to it over many decades and through so much of our history. Some joined because it was the party of working people that would stand up for the little guy against the big shots. Some joined because it was the party that stood up for the poor. Some because it was the party of rights for women, Latinos, immigrants, gays and lesbians, each in their time—the party tolerant of the country's growing diversity. Some joined because it was more supportive of abortion. Some because of the environment and climate change. Some because of spending on the arts or whatever.
Those are all good and important reasons to embrace the Democratic Party, but they are not what has animated us through all the years of struggle. Our passion for Democratic politics began with race and racial equality. That shaped us like no other issue and upended the political world like no other. But, like Robert Kennedy, we quickly came to believe that our party would only succeed and have purpose if we put work, work values, and hardworking people of whatever color at the center of our efforts. Given our country's history, that might take a lifetime.
The two of us could not be more different. James is tall and bald. Stan is a short guy who had a 'fro. And you could not have constructed more divergent personal journeys to our common passion. Stan grew up in working-class big-city neighborhoods and galloped through Harvard and Yale before putting his spotlight on the Reagan Democrats, the disaffected working class that felt betrayed by the Democratic Party. James grew up in small-town Cajun Louisiana, joined the Marines, and barely got passing grades in law school before he started running and winning campaigns. Both of us became convinced that Bill Clinton was the extraordinary politician who was trusted by African American voters and instinctively understood he had to honor and win over the "forgotten middle class" to lead the country.
James I grew up in Carville, Louisiana, in Iberville Parish, sixty- five miles north of New Orleans. Carville was barely a blip on the map back then, and the only thing that stopped folks passing straight through was the stop sign in the middle of town.